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Thessaloniki, 27 March 2017- Father Porphyrios Georgi, the Dean of the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology at the University of Balamand, met with Professor Militiadis Konstantinou, the Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, in the office of the latter in Thessaloniki. Father Bassam Nassif accompanied Father Porphyrios, and the meeting was held in the presence of the Scholar Ioannis Karavidopoulos, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the University of Thessaloniki.

 

Father Porphyrios discussed ways to deepen and strengthen the cooperation between both theological faculties of Thessaloniki and Balamand, and the revitalization of the Association of the Orthodox Theological Schools in the world. The Dean of Balamand also met with other theological faculty members of the University of Thessaloniki.

Later on, Father Porphyrios made a visit to Metropolitan Panteleimon Rodopoulos at his residence in the Vlatadon Monastery in Thessaloniki, inquiring about his health and asking for his prayers and blessings. Metropolitan Rodopoulos worked as the dean in Balamand from 1972 to 1975.  

A Pastoral Seminar

21 March 2017, 12:00 am Written by
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A Pastoral Seminar

“Caring for the Caregivers”

 

 On Saturday March 18, 2017 a pastoral seminar was organized at the Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology, Balamand. The seminar titled “Caring for the Caregivers” started at 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM with the presence of priests, faculty, specialists in addition to twenty students from Saint Anne Seminary, Rabweh. Father Bassam Nassif, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology at the Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology gave an introduction to the seminar.

 

At the beginning, Father Porphyrios Georgi, Dean of the Institute welcomed everyone and relayed the blessings of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East to the audience. He added that: “The modern man puts between him and religion a barrier of reservation and rejection, so that the judicial image of God enshrined in some approaches of Christian theology has made modern man exclude any role of God and religion in his enlightened societies.” He also added that, “in some places, Christian theology has lost the possibility of communicating with people. It has contributed to making contemporary man lose his purpose and the right vision in his life, which could only be provided by theology. When theology diverts from its original course, people tend to quench their thirst, either from western spiritualism, or by turning to the material and its origins, or with some kind of apathy and coldness." Fr. Porphyrios stressed that: “the Christian theology is a pastoral and missionary message. It is an approach for the healing of man in order to have life – through enlightenment, and to have the best - through glorification."

 

The first lecture was given by Dr. Nazem Bassil, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine at the University of Balamand and specialist in family medicine and geriatrics at Saint George Hospital. Dr. Bassil spoke about the reality of caregivers in Lebanon and described the challenges imposed on them. The second lecture was given by Dr. Michel Daher, Professor of Surgery and Director of Medical Ethics Teaching Program at the University of Balamand and Saint George Hospital. Dr. Daher provided an explanation on fatigue and its cure from a medical point of view.

 

After a short break, Dr. Jane Karnahan Hinshaw, Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, New York gave the third lecture. Dr. Karnahan spoke about caring for the caregivers from a psychological perspective. The last lecture was given by Dr. Daniel Hinshaw, Professor at the University of Michigan and Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Dr. Hinshaw spoke about caring for the caregivers from a spiritual point of view. At the end, discussions were opened between the audience and the lecturers. Later, they were all invited to a banquet hosted by the Institute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Meeting with Brother Sabino Chiala

23 February 2017, 12:00 am Written by
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On February 20, 2017, the Balamand family met with Brother Sabino Chiala, a monk of Bose Monastery in Italy and a specialist in Syrian Fathers. At first Fr. Porphyrios Georgi, Dean of the Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology expressed his gratitude and welcomed Brother Sabino. Then, Brother Sabino spoke about Saint Isaac the Syrian, Bishop of Nineveh (currently Mosul) of the seventh century. He explained that we do not know a lot about the Saint’s life, but he left us some great spiritual teachings preserved in three collections. Brother Sabino studied the last collection which was discovered in a manuscript found in Tehran. He stressed that Saint Isaac spoke about spiritual life from personal experience with God and not from mere speculation. At the end Brother Sabino replied to the questions of the participants.

 

 

 

 

Seminar and Book Signing: “Lest the Truth is Lost”

13 February 2017, 12:00 am Written by
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Under the high patronage of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, and the participation of His Eminence Metropolitan Saba Esber of Bosra Hauran and Jabal al-Arab, Protopresbyter Porphyrios Georgi, Dean of the Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology and Dr. George Nahas, Vice President of the University of Balamand in charge of planning and educational relations and Dean of the Faculty of Library and Information Studies, a seminar and book signing event of “ Lest the Truth is Lost” by Dr. Georges Ghandour was held at the Great Hall of the Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery on Saturday February 11, 2017. The event was presented by Mrs. Nancy Najjar.

At first, His Eminence mentioned some characteristics of the Antiochian role in the Orthodox Church, such as the pastoral dimension which is reflected in the involvement and contribution of the people of God in any Orthodox gathering. He also emphasized on the importance of Orthodox Christian unity and the Antiochian position which sees and reads freely, that is without carrying the chains of history. Then Fr. Porphyrios explained that in the history of the church many councils were rejected, and their ecclesiastical reference and dogmatic authority were not recognized. He also noted that preoccupation with matters related to the universal power in the church impedes the uniqueness of the local church. Dr. George Nahas affirmed that the greatest problematics of the assembly of Crete were in its agenda and the approaching method of its content. At the end, Dr. Ghandour presented some features of his book. He expressed his gratitude to His Beatitude, to Archimandrite Romanos El Hannat the Abbot of the Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery, and all those who assisted in this work.  

 

 

Archimandrite Elie Ragot in Balamand

11 February 2017, 12:00 am Written by
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Archimandrite Elie Ragot, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration in France, visited Lebanon by invitation of His Eminence Metropolitan Ephrem of Tripoli, Koura and Dependencies.   On the 10th of February, Archimandrite Elie visited Balamand and met with Archimandrite Romanos EL Hannat the Abbot of our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery, and participated in Vespers. Then he had a talk at the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology about Spiritual Fatherhood. Fr Porphyrios, the Institute Dean introduced Archimandrite Ragot, who spoke about the important role of the spiritual fathers today, presenting Christ in the midst of the community, carrying their children’s joys and sorrows. Fr Elie expressed his dismay that the sacrament of confession has been neglected in the West much more than in the East. Discussions followed the talk. Then, His Eminence Metropolitan Ephrem thanked Fr Elie and invited the audience to participate in his lecture at the Archdiocese in Tripoli the following Sunday about the challenges facing the youth and the contemporary family. Finally, the Dean presented a gift of gratitude to Fr. Elie in the name of the Balamand community.

 

Under the High patronage of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, and in the presence of His Eminence Metropolitan Ephrem of Tripoli, Koura and Dependencies, a lecture was delivered by Dr. Jean Claude Larchet about the new media illnesses: protection and remedies organized by the Patriarchal Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand and the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology, the University of Balamand.

At first, Fr. Porphyrios Georgi, Dean of the Institute of Theology introduced the lecturer citing his many accomplishments in the patristic research which yielded more than fifteen reference books in anthropology, therapy of spiritual illnesses, ethics, dogmatics, and St. Maximus the Confessor.

Dr. Larchet assessed the use of modern social media and smart phones, leading to human slavery. He exposed the new psychological and spiritual illnesses resulting from the self-love and introversion, poor concentration, distancing oneself from prayer and spiritual life, and the substitution of normal human relationships with virtual ones. Dr. Larchet proposed certain ways for the users for protection and remedies, emphasizing the spirit of fasting and vigilance. He finally answered many questions from the audience.

 

 

Spiritual Retreat 2017

3 February 2017, 12:00 am Written by
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On the sounds of the monastery bells, the Great Lent retreat for the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology students began Monday February 27 and ended Wednesday March 1, 2017. The retreat included the daily prayers of the Matins, the Hours, Vespers and the reading of the St. Andrew of Crete Great Canon, in addition to four spiritual talks and a meeting with His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East.

 

The first talk was given by His Grace Bishop Athanasios of Nineveh, Bishop of Tartous who spoke about “The Nourishment of Lent, Spiritual Meditations.” As for the second talk, it was given by Archimandrite Romanos Al Hannat, Abbot of the Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery, about “Feeling with the Other in Lent.” The first day was crowned by a meeting with His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East.

The second day’s talk was with His Eminence Metropolitan Ephrem of Tripoli, Koura, and Dependencies, who spoke about the “Askesis and Prayer during Lent.” Last but not least, Father Porphyrios Georgi, the Dean of the Institute of Theology gave a talk entitled “The Pathway of Light, Resurrection and Life.”

The third day ended the retreat with the prayer services of Matins and the Hours followed by the Presanctified Liturgy.

لقاء صاحب الغبطة مع الطلاب

1 November 2016, 12:00 am Written by
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مساء الخميس الواقع في السابع والعشرين من شهر تشرين الأول للعام 2016، التقى صاحب الغبطة البطريرك يوحنّا العاشر الكلي الطوبى بطريرك أنطاكية وسائر المشرق مع طلاب معهد القديس يوحنّا الدمشقي اللاهوتي في جلسة عائليّة أبويّة. حيث قدّم لهم الدعم والإرشاد على سائر الأصعدة لا سيما الروحيّة منها.

 

أشار غبطته إلى أهميّة الحياة المشتركة التي يعيشها الطلاب في دراستهم وصلواتهم وخدمتهم في المعهد، مشجعًا إياهم على التعب والسهر في سبيل النمو الروحي والعلمي. وأكّد على أنّ هذا العالم المتخبط ليس بحاجة لمن يتكلم عن التواضع والمحبة بقدر ما هو بحاجة لأشخاص متواضعين ومحبين حقيقة.

 

وقد تزينت الجلسة بباقة من التراتيل والأناشيد الكنسية التي أدّاها الطلاب  معبّرين عن فرحهم بلقاء الأب والراعي.

 

لقاء مع الأسقف مارتن هاين

1 November 2016, 12:00 am Written by
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في السادس والعشرين من شهر تشرين الأول لعام 2016، وببركة وحضور صاحب الغبطة البطريرك يوحنّا العاشر الكلي الطوبى والجزيل الاحترام، استقبلت أسرة معهد القديس يوحنّا الدمشقي اللاهوتي وفدًا من كنيسةKurhessen-Waldek   اللوثرية الألمانيّة برئاسة الأسقف مارتن هاين القادم من ألمانيا. بعد الاشتراك في مأدبة الغداء، شكر الأسقف هاين غبطة البطريرك ودعاه لزيارة ألمانية مبيّنًا علاقة التعاون الطيبة بين الكنيستين التي بدأت منذ خمس وعشرين سنة.

 

وقد ألقى الأسقف هاين بعد الظهر محاضرة في قاعة البطريرك إغناطيوس الرابع، تحدث فيها عن التعاون والحوار في خدمة وحدة الكنيسة. وأشار أيضًا إلى البيان المشترك الذي تم توقيعه مع غبطة البطريرك. وبعد طرح عدد من الأسئلة من أساتذة وطلاب المعهد، توجّه عميد المعهد قدس المتقدم في الكهنة الأب بورفيريوس جرجي بالشكر لسيادة الأسقف هاين معبرًا عن فرحه بهذا اللقاء ومقدّمًا له وللوفد المرافق بعض الهدايا التذكارية.

اجتمع صاحب السيادة الأسقف إغناطيوس سمعان، أُسقف قيصريّة الجزيل الاحترام، والذي يرعى كنيستنا الأنطاكية في فنزويلا مع طلاب معهد القديس يوحنا الدمشقي اللاهوتي في السادس عشر من شهر أيلول للعام 2016. وقدّم عرضًا تاريخيًّا عن أبرشية المكسيك وفنزويلا وأميركا الوسطى وجزر الكاريبي، موضحًا الازدهار الذي تحقق في هذه الأبرشية مع صاحب السيادة المتروبوليت أنطونيوس شدراوي الجزيل الاحترام. كما تحدّث بشكل عام عن الصعوبات التي تعاني منها أبرشيات الانتشار، وعن العلاقات الطيبة في فنزويلا مع باقي الكنائس المسيحيّة.